Cyclist harnesses her grief, wins U.S. race [Portland Press Herald]

Ellen Noble couldn't feel her hands gripping the handlebar of her racing bike. She could barely feel her feet pumping its pedals. So much of her body was numb from the cold.

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Ellen Noble, 17, of Kennebunkport recently won a national championship in cyclo-cross, a sport that sends cyclists racing through muddy terrain and requires them to carry their bikes over obstacles.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
But not her emotions.
She crossed the finish line and reached up to touch the mud-splattered locket hanging around her neck. The simple piece of jewelry, a gift from her grandmother, contained two miniature photos of her father and a one-word inscription: Always.
On Jan. 11 at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Nationals in Wisconsin, the 17-year-old racer from Kennebunkport won the race that made her a champion. Noble laughed as she cried, pulled in opposite directions by her joy and her sadness.
That she won this race for 17- and 18-year-old cyclists wasn't unexpected. Noble is a comer in this sport far off the radar of most. She's been racing in one form of cycling or another since she was 7.